Hareem Abdullah, a Girl Scout from Sterling, speaks out in a letter to President Obama


(Tracy A. Woodward/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Have you ever wondered about the power of words? Short words, long words, easy words, ones that are hard to spell: No matter the shape, words help express feelings, describe places, inform or change someone’s mind. Words helped reelect President Barack Obama. And as he gives his inaugural address to the nation Monday, you might hear such words as “oath,” “peace,” “crisis,” “challenge” and “hope.”

But you don’t have to be the president of the United States to harness the power of words. Even kids can do it. Just look at 14-year-old Hareem Abdullah, who is a member of the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital. Hareem has loved writing since she was in kindergarten. Last fall, the 11th-grader from Sterling entered a contest called “Girl Scouts Speak Out: Dear Mr. President.” Her letter, which talked about our nation’s need for leadership and the great things girls have to offer, won the contest. In the letter, Hareem wrote, “Girls are making the world a better place each and every day! . . . We HAVE to support these girls by helping them find the right way to succeed.”

“I got this idea for a letter in my head and I just kept on writing,” Hareem says.

Her words will be heard, too. Hareem and her winning letter are part of a public service announcement produced last month in Washington by the Girl Scouts of the USA. (Public service announcements are ads on television or radio that aim to make people more aware about an important issue.)

Hareem believes that kids can make a difference in the world and that leaders, like President Obama, should listen to the voices of children. She thinks that kids should lead by example.

Leadership gives kids something to do with their lives “in a rightful way,” Hareem says.

Here’s some advice for how kids (boys included!) can be leaders every day:

●Start with the basics, such as creating goals in school and working hard.

●Contribute to your family’s happiness by, for example, doing chores — even taking out the trash helps.

●Be kind.

●Whatever you choose to do, do it well.

“Some kids think their lives are boring,” Hareem says. “But it’s the small things that make life great, like your friends, earning Girl Scout badges and going on field trips.”

How does Hareem hope President Obama will react when he hears her message? “I hope he finds what I wrote . . . to be true,” she says. “He’s already doing a fantastic job, but I hope he can do more to make women and girls a priority.”

You can read Hareem’s full letter at speakout.girlscouts.org/finalists.

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— Kitson Jazynka

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